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While Tamil Nadu retains its pride in the state’s official language, school enrolment rates show a growing number of people in the state are choosing English-medium education for their children. Tamil-medium schools have steadily lost students over the past five years and schools with English as the medium of instruction have been taking in those students. While the rate of enrolment in Tamil-medium schools dropped from 65.83% in 2009-10 to 63.43% the next academic year, enrolment in English-medium schools increased from 33.24% to 35.82% in 2010-11.
The shift to English medium schools is an unspoken admission that children are unable to learn the language in a Tamil-medium school. A few decades ago, people who studied in Tamil-medium schools were able to communicate effectively in English. Educationist S S Rajagopalan said that this is not possible today because children come from various socio-economic backgrounds. “There are many first generation learners who don’t have anybody to converse with them in English after school. Children in Tamil medium schools are exposed to a maximum of 40 minutes to an hour of English for 180 days in a year, which makes it difficult for them to pick up the language,” he said.
Even as the state continues to convert Tamil-medium schools into those that offer English as the medium of instruction, it is also taking measures to ensure that the mother tongue of people in the state does not lose precedence. The previous DMK regime gave preference in government jobs to Tamil-medium students and also introduced the Tamil Learning Act 2006, which requires all students to take up Tamil as second language, irrespective of their mother tongue.
Courtesy: Times of India
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